The role of HR is becoming more challenging as fear, panic, and disharmony has taken over the minds of most employees due to the business shutdown and curfews imposed in Sri Lanka. HR leaders must step up and resolve workplace conflicts. Virtual and remote work has not only simplified and made projects and programs efficient for some employees and business but it has also created an unbalanced work environment where some employees thrive in these circumstances and others are left out from the digital aid, technological aid, and the artificial intelligence aid.

As some employees perceive their interests are being opposed or negatively affected by other employees who seem to be more proficient with technology and remote work, HR managers are tested and taken to the arena of proving themselves to be experts in conflict resolution.

COVID-19 has brough about economic recession. In most countries the national unemployment rate is on average 3.5 percent, but now the government predicts that it could reach as high as 18 to 20 percent by April and May 2020, which indicates a recession in the economy. The International Labor Organization estimates that 20 to 25 million jobs could be lost globally, much like the economic recession of 2008. As employees compete for their jobs in companies today, conflict is a natural phenomena and an inevitable outcome that will arise as line managers desperately try to choose to keep the right employees in their businesses and employees try to work together to complete projects and meet deadlines whilst managing remote conflicts with teams.  However, on the bright side, low to moderate levels of conflicts is deemed to be necessary for a group to perform effectively.

HR managers can resolve conflict my organizing face to face meetings by using video conferencing facilities, playing down differences of team members and emphasizing common interests between the conflicting parties, compromising and helping each party give up something of value, using behavioural changing techniques to nurture positive attitudes and behaviours, and changing the formal organizational structures and interaction patters of the conflicting parties by job redesign, transfers, creation of coordinating positions and the like.

As COVID-19 continues to rattle the hearts of people around the world the effects of its impact must be noticed. The continuous increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few weeks and days have steadily risen and is clearly of concern. The government of Sri Lanka has taken stringent efforts to control the spread of this pandemic. However, small businesses with fewer than five hundred employees have been impacted the most, providing limited paid-leave benefits to employees. Even larger companies feel like it’s their responsibility to provide paid leave relief to workers. HR is the department that has come out as heroes in handling new workplace policies and preparing for future regulation amendments.

Conflict is constructive when it improves the quality of decisions been made in organizations, improves creativity and innovation, encourages interest and participation among group members, and fosters an environment of evaluation and change. When conflict is at an optimal level, self-righteousness and apathy should be minimized, motivation should be enhanced through the creation of a ever challenging environment with the energetic force that makes work interesting, and there should be the right amount of turnover needed to relieve the company from misfits and poor performers. Conflict facilitates group cohesiveness. As a nation or as an organization, external threats cause a group to pull together as a unit and raises the extent to which members identify with their own group and increase feelings of solidarity.